Bill Cosby Breaks His Silence After Being Released From Prison: ‘I Have Always Maintained My Innocence’ and celeb reactions.
Bill Cosby spoke out after his 2018 sexual assault conviction was overturned and he was released from prison.
“I have never changed my stance nor my story,” the disgraced comedian, 83, tweeted on Wednesday, June 30, alongside a photo of himself with his fist raised in the air. “I have always maintained my innocence.”
Cosby went on to express gratitude to those who advocated for him amid the scandal. “Thank you to all my fans, supporters, and friends who stood by me through this ordeal,” he continued. “Special thanks to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court for upholding the rule of law. #BillCosby.”
The Cosby Show alum was released earlier on Wednesday after serving two years of his three to 10-year sentence. Us Weekly confirmed that the Pennsylvania high court found an agreement with a previous prosecutor that prevented him from being charged. Montgomery County District Attorney Bruce Castor decided in 2005 that Cosby could not be prosecuted due to a perceived lack of credibility on Andrea Constand’s part, partially because she did not file a complaint against him immediately.
Constand first pursued a civil case against the actor in 2005, during which he had to forfeit his Fifth Amendment right to remain silent while participating in four depositions. The incriminating statements he made during the depositions were then used in the criminal case, and he was subsequently found guilty of three counts of aggravated indecent assault for drugging and sexually assaulting Constand in 2004. He was arrested 12 days before the statute of limitations would have expired.
Cosby’s attorney Brian Perry told Us in a statement on Wednesday: “We have always believed that Mr. Cosby was not treated fairly. And based on how the arguments went with the Supreme Court, there was no question in our minds that conviction was going to be reversed. Fortunately, we were right. And in essence what the court ruled, was that he shouldn’t have been prosecuted to begin with because the previous district attorney, Bruce Castor, agreed not to prosecute them and Mr. Cosby relied on that in the civil depositions.”
Perry added that the decision “wasn’t reversed” but rather “vacated and he was discharged.”
Cosby was accused of sexual assault by more than 60 women, and five testified against him with allegations similar to Constand’s.
The case ended in a mistrial in 2017. The Fat Albert star was later convicted in April 2018 at the conclusion of a second trial. He was sentenced and remanded to prison that September.
Phylicia Rashad, Dylan Farrow, and More Celebs React to Bill Cosby’s Surprising Prison Release.
Many celebrities took to social media to react to the news of Bill Cosby’s surprising prison release.
Phylicia Rashad, who played Cosby’s onscreen wife on The Cosby Show, showed support for her former costar.
“FINALLY!!!! A terrible wrong is being righted- a miscarriage of justice is corrected!” Rashad tweeted after the news made headlines.
After social media users questioned her post and asked for Rashad to be removed from her new position as a dean at Howard University, the actress elaborated that she supports “survivors of sexual assault coming forward.”
Us Weekly confirmed on Wednesday that the Pennsylvania Supreme Court ruled Cosby should be released from prison and his conviction vacated because the comedian was denied his rights when he provided self-incriminating evidence in a civil suit that was later used to convict him in the criminal case.
Cosby, who was accused of sexual misconduct by more than 60 women, was sentenced to three to 10 years in prison in September 2018 after being convicted earlier that year of drugging and sexually assaulting Andrea Constand.
The actor was denied bail at the time and he did not make a statement during the hearing, although he maintained his innocence throughout the legal proceedings.
Constand’s case was the only one that ended in criminal charges after Cosby’s first trial ended in a hung jury in June 2017.
“When the sexual assault happened, I was a young woman brimming with confidence and looking forward to a future bright with possibilities,” Constand wrote in a five-page victim impact statement the week of Cosby’s sentencing in 2018. “Now, almost 15 years later, I’m a middle-aged woman who’s been stuck in a holding pattern for most of her adult life, unable to heal fully or to move forward.”
Following the recent announcement of Cosby’s release, Constand said in a statement through her legal team to Us that they “remain grateful to those who came forward to tell their stories.” Constand highlighted that they “urge all victims to have their voices heard,” despite “the ultimate outcome which resulted from a procedural technicality.”
The statement added: “Today’s majority decision regarding Bill Cosby is not only disapproved but of concern in that it may discourage those who sex justice for sexual assault in the criminal justice system from reporting or participating in the prosecution of the assailant or may force a victim to choose between filing either a criminal or civil action.”
After Cosby’s release, Dylan Farrow, who has accused father, Woody Allen of sexual abuse in the past, offered her thoughts on the situation.
“Perpetrators see what has happened today and know their crimes will go unpunished. We need to see real, meaningful change in our system before we can ever hope to achieve justice. My heart goes out to the survivors today and every day,” she tweeted.
"My friends who went through this horror are experiencing this trauma all over again today. we stand by the survivors of Bill Cosby," Arquette tweeted.
"I don't want to hear anything about how to cancel culture ruined men's lives during the MeToo era reckoning for women and survivors. How we went too far. Today's news that Cosby's conviction is being overturned is proof we haven't gone far enough. Our justice system MUST change," the Time's Up co-founder shared via Twitter.
"I stand with all of Bill Cosby’s accusers on this dark day," McGowan, who previously spoke out against film producer Harvey Weinstein in October 2017, accusing him of sexual misconduct, tweeted.
"To every woman who was sexual assaulted by #BillCosby my heart hurts for you today and I am full fury. It’s horrifying," the Will and Grace actress tweeted in June 2021.
Farrow, who previously accused her father, Allen, of sexual abuse in 1992, explained her thoughts on the greater meaning behind Cosby's release.
"The fact that Bill Cosby, after being accused by 60 brave women, could have his conviction overturned by a technicality, and that James Franco could settle for millions of dollars as 'compensation for the lifetime of the trauma he inflicted is a travesty. It is a perfect example of how not just our society, but our justice system, continually fails survivors of sexual assault," she tweeted.
Franco, who was previously accused of sexual misconduct in January 2018, settled the case on the same day. The actor will reportedly pay $2.2 million in the settlement.
Farrow continued: "For those that question myself and other survivors about the reasons and timing of coming forward, I hope that today will serve as a teachable moment on empathy, on why it takes years — if ever — for someone to disclose their abuse. Many survivors will love at the events of today and decide it's not worth it; that even the justice is served, it can be taken away."
"I GUESS 70 WOMEN WERENT ENOUGH - f--k u bill," the comedian posted via Twitter.
Following the backlash to her initial tweet, Rashad clarified that she didn't mean it the way it was interpreted.
"My post was in no way intended to be insensitive to their truth. Personally, I know from friends and family that such abuse has lifelong residual effects. My heartfelt wish is for healing," she added in a follow-up tweet.
When allegations against Cosby first surfaced, the This Is Us star insisted that she "never saw anything inappropriate" while working with him on set.
"My initial reaction to the allegations was, 'Hmm. Someone has a vested interest in preventing Mr. Cosby's return to network television,'" she said on ABC's Nightline in January 2015.
"I haven't spoken to him recently, but speaking to the character of the man I know this has not been easy at all," she added at the time. "I don't have all the answers, but I think in the hearts and minds of many people, he is held in high regard. And absolutely I do, yes I do."
"People that are celebrating Bill Cosby being released are f--kin idiots," the rapper shared via Twitter.